Mysterious and massive, mammoths and mastodons made the world their stomping grounds for millennia and provided a source of food and artistic inspiration for ancient peoples. The exhibition Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age explores the evolution, interactions, and eventual extinction of these enormous and awe-inspiring creatures.
Tusks and Trunks
Trace the ancestral trail of elephants, mammoths, and mastodons to discover their origins in Africa. Explore a family tree with touchable scale models of their ancient relatives and learn about tusks and trunks—the traits that make them all members of the order Proboscidea [pro-bo-SID-ee-ah].
- Don’t miss: The “Trunks” and “Tusk Balancing” Interactives
Try your hand at picking up objects by manipulating a mechanical trunk, and discover just how much work goes into balancing the weight of a mammoth’s tusks.
Growing Up in the Herd
See a model of Lyuba, the 42,000-year-old baby mammoth whose amazing state of preservation—including eyelashes, ears, and internal organs—provided scientists with a better picture of how these ancient giants lived.
- Don’t miss: The “Mammoth Wrestling” Interactive
Learn how mammoth males fought to establish dominance and win a mate—behaviors that today’s elephants share with their ancient relatives.
Explore Ice Age habitats and discover the diverse climates—from woodlands to wintry plains—where mammoths roamed alongside saber-toothed cats and short-faced bears. Come face-to-face with a life-size replica of a Columbian mammoth, one of the largest mammals to have inhabited North America.
- Don’t miss: The “Animal Tracks and Dung” Interactive
Guess which animals left behind prints and piles preserved in caves, “souvenirs” that tell us more about Ice Age animals.
Colorado Ice Age: Snowmass Village Discoveries
Learn more about the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s largest-ever fossil excavation near Snowmass Village, Colorado. See bones of some of the Ice Age animals that Museum crews excavated, and hear about the science that is emerging from this historic discovery.
- Don’t miss: “Ice Age Death Trap,” the Snowmastodon Project touch cart
See and touch real and cast fossils from Snowmass Village, and learn more about the diversity of the animals discovered.
A Prehistoric Drama
Learn the differences between mammoths and mastodons, and take a look at weapons and other tools used to hunt and process such enormous mammals. Discover how these impressive beasts provided ancient peoples with food, tools, decorative objects, artistic inspiration—and even shelter!
- Don’t miss: The “Picturing Mammoths” Interactive
Look into a “cave” in southwest France to view reproductions of prehistoric cave paintings, and learn about their possible meanings through a series of interactive games.
Pushed to Their Limits
Learn why some mammoths shrank in size after colonizing islands. Investigate the extinction mystery of mammoths, and meet some of the last mammoths on Earth who survived on islands off the coasts of Siberia and Alaska.
Conserving a Legacy
Ponder the fate of elephants—the only surviving relatives of mammoths and mastodons—and find out about the threats they face and how you can help.
- Don’t miss: The “Elephant Vocal Communication” Interactive
Experience an elephant’s rumble—a form of long-range communication at a frequency so low that humans “feel” it more than they hear it.
Ancient Elephants of Colorado: Preparing fossils
Watch Museum scientists clean and repair ancient elephant bones found in Colorado!
- Don’t miss: The “Excavation Station” touch cart
See and touch tools used by scientists to prepare fossils for study.